The days grow shorter. Golden leaf-litter trails turn to slime. Overhead, light blares through the trees’ bony limbs. And I want ice cream because I hate winter. Ironic, then, that I moved to Alaska. At least I don’t live in Boston.
Having just finished listening to Benjamin Black’s EVEN THE DEAD: A QUIRKE NOVEL read by John Keating (one of my favorite narrators), this month’s topic, texture, brings to mind how we can use scenic details not only to set our stories but to enhance the mood of a scene.
As the story progresses, Quirke has a series of conversations (confrontations) with his adopted brother’s wife which are progressively tense. He’s conversing; she’s confronting. Towards the end of the book, the weather becomes overcast when they meet. In another scene, Quirke is having a conversation with a lady friend in which “the” question is posed. The candlelight flickers before it stays into a “yellow teardrop.” We don’t find out the answer in this book.
Have you ever noticed how weather is a Hollywood staple for setting the mood of a scene? Happy young lovers picnic in a sun-drenched field. Sad person stares out a window splattered with raindrops. Two dogs share spaghetti over a candlelit dinner. A little of this scenic detail can go a long way.
Writers are fortunate that we can point our readers to particularized details without, hopefully, being Hollywood-heavy-handed. Having just developed the awareness of this technique, I would like to read more well-done use of texture.
Ergo, for my own edification, Mysteristas, I ask you: Can you think of writers who are particularly good at using setting details to bring out the emotions in their scenes?